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THE YEAR 5761 BOTH BEGAN and ended with personal tragedies for me.

It began with the passing of my father, R’ Chaim Shapiro z”l, and ended with the tragedy of the World Trade Center and the subsequent loss of Nancy. I have spent the last year and a half thinking of my father. Thinking about his life, what I learned from him, and how he would react in just about every situation. Now my thoughts are focused on Nancy. And, incredibly, the more I think of Nancy, the more I realize that my father and Nancy had much in common.

This may seem odd. My father was a European who grew up among the greatest gedolim of his generation. He lived and breathed a life utterly foreign to the typical American. He was old-fashioned, and proud of it. Nancy, on the other hand, was a thoroughly American girl. She grew up with the comforts and styles of America, and found a passion for biking.

How can I possibly compare the two?

The key is the word “passion.” Both my father and Nancy had an intense passion for life. My father would put his mind to something and see it through to completion. He would put his heart and soul into every project he took on, with a passion uncommon in today’s society. Nancy was the same. She set goals for herself, and worked very hard to reach those goals. She trained, sweated, and put all her effort into everything she did. She lived with passion. And just like my father, no matter what she was involved in, no matter how engrossed she was in trying to attain her goals, she always had time for others.

Nancy cared. She made it her business to schmooze with fellow bikers, even those from the opposing team. She would listen to her friends’ problems and try to help in any way that she could. She loved her family—and, oh, how she loved my kids! She gave money to poor people, substantial sums of money, even though she didn’t make enough herself, because “they need it more than I do.” Yes, my father and Nancy were worlds apart, yet that passion for life and the caring for others were evident in the both of them. It’s no wonder that my father was so fond of Nancy.

But the comparison goes even further. My father was a proud Jew. If he were present at an event that was contrary to his beliefs, he would stand up and let all those present know it. It didn’t bother him to be different. Over and over in his life, he stood up and declared, “I am a Jew and I’m proud of it.” Nancy found her place among a diverse spectrum of people. Yet at all times she knew she was a Jew, and was proud of her Jewishness. It was so much a part of her that she too would stand up among her friends and declare, “I am different. I don’t drive on Shabbos. I don’t eat non-kosher food. I am a proud Jew.” What a Kiddush Hashem!

Avi Shapiro, Nancy’s brother-in-law, lives with Nancy’s sister, Lori, and their children in Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel.


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Acknowledgments Introduction Testimonies Photo Gallery 1 Reflections from Nancy's Mother